Algarve’s White Stork

two storks on their nest

In Algarve, the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a common sight throughout the year however, that has not always been the case.

Their numbers increased in the 1980s when they were granted protection by the Portuguese government and it is estimated that there are over 15,000 birds int he country. Many don’t migrate as they would have in the past – this seems to be due to the warmer winters that Portugal is having.

Migration starts in July and continues through to October, with the birds returning in April to mate. Storks are monogamous and will usually return to the same nest.

Those that migrate will often congregate in Sagres which is a spectacle to photograph.

You will see many nests in tree stumps (close to Odiaxere and on the road to Monchique for example), on the top of chimneys also lampposts and electricity pylons.

Standing at just over a metre tall, storks have a wingspan of over two metres and use thermals to climb and soar thus saving energy when flying.

They do not have a voice box so they bond and display by clattering their beaks and throwing their heads to rest on their backs.

A clutch can be up of to four eggs with young chicks hatching around the end of April and fledged by early June.

The White Stork is a carnivore and will usually nest within five kilometres of its feeding ground; fields where insects, wroms plus small rodents and amphibians can be found. They can also be seen foraging in mudflats and landfill sites.

Portugal is the only known country in Europe where storks nest at sea. They started nesting on the coast of the Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina Natural Park and have recently been seen nesting on Algarve’s southern coast.

These nests perch precariously on cliff edges and large rock formations that jut out to sea.

Being so large, special equipment is not needed to photograph these amazing birds. Keep your eyes peeled for them throughout the region, we’d be interested to see your photos on our Facebook page.

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